The recipe for sumptuous fragrance commercials is simple. Take one A-List actress (if you can’t get your hands on one of these, a hot young thing off the runway will do), drop her into a ludicrous, dreamlike plot (add heavy makeup and neck arching for full-blown sexual fantasy), and cover with a nonsensical monologue, sprinkled with notions of escape, romance, and celebrity. To finish, toss in the Eiffel Tower. Here are 10 the fashion industry prepared earlier!
This is a weird one and, strangely, this has nothing to do with Miss Knightley’s constant, stoic pout. It starts with her waking up (with flawless makeup and choppy bob) and demonstrating how to fashion an Oscar gown out of a bedsheet. She then hops on her motorcycle, carelessly abandoned the night before in the middle of the Place des Vosges, and speeds through empty Parisian streets (it must be August) towards a photoshoot. She then flirts inappropriately with the cameraman (who looks like he could be her brother) before unceremoniously bailing through the window. So unprofessional, Keira.
This frankly terrible effort from Victoria’s Secret should be a lesson to all advertisers: make sure there are plenty of ridiculous visual antics going on so that no one really follows the crappy voiceover. Here, all we have to distract us is a model demonstrating the least practical way to sit in a chair. Nowhere near melodramatic enough to pull attention from the stilted dialogue between the two guys who think A) that a supermodel saying ‘People project their fantasies on me’ is a remarkable statement and B) that her having said this in Paris suddenly makes it comprehensible.
The trouble with selling a product on the basis of its contradictory qualities is that you have to be damn sure all your provocative-sounding opposites stand up to scrutiny. Obviously, ‘night’ and ‘day’ and ‘question’ and ‘answer’ are solid pairings but we’re not so sure about ‘composed’ and ‘excessive’. Isn’t the opposite of composed ‘flaming hot mess’? Word choice aside, it’s the scene on top of the Grand Palais that really sticks in the throat. When the revolution does come, it won’t be fashionistas leading the charge. Rather, they might find themselves on the harsh end of some flag waving by hordes of lowly have-nots.
Comic book fans, look away. To promote her ‘new, mischievous fragrance’, Nina Ricci has Canadian supermodel Jessica Stam trot around some Parisian rooftops as a ribbon-twirling Catwoman. Stam certainly has the feline looks but this is still a grievous misrepresentation. Catwoman wasn’t mischievous! She was sexy, dark, and maybe even a little twisted. Chipmunks are mischievous. So why not have Alvin and the gang as brand ambassadors, Nina? Yes, it might be a hard sell to your board and customer base but isn’t that what the fashion industry is all about, taking risks?
In fairness, the perfume is called ‘Midnight Poison’ so it shouldn’t have come as too much of a shock that it’s caused Eva Green to completely lose her mind and go on a rampage across Paris. She also appears to be modeling one of the looks from Mugatu’s Derelicte collection. Is her dress made out of midnight blue bin bags? Is she supposed to be one of ‘the homeless, the vagrants, the crack whores that make this wonderful city so unique’? Without question, the standout moment is when she Tarzans into the party at the Opéra Garnier. Chagall’s ceiling looks great, though!
Theses ought to be written on the ridiculousness of this advert. The rope climb alone deserves screeds of analysis. Why are we being dragged back to gym class for the sake of perfume? In our mind’s eye, all of our attempts were this effortless and glamorous. But we know, deep down, that there was a whole lot more elbow grease, brow sweat, and butt crack involved. Also, can someone tell us if it’s written into Charlize Theron’s contract that she must destroy priceless jewelry in every perfume ad she stars in? Just take it off like a normal person, put it in a box. It’s not that difficult.
To give credit where credit’s due, this homage to Runaway Bride featuring Natalie Portman actually has a coherent storyline. But it isn’t perfect. If you’re going to flee to Paris from your French Riviera wedding, the last mode of transport you want to take is a helicopter. The average flight range of even the most advanced models is only 300 miles, which will leave you 100 miles shy of your destination. This is if copping off with the pilot (was she having an affair or is she just loving being a free agent?) doesn’t bring you crashing into a mountainside long before you run out of fuel.
Truthfully, this advert is almost good. The words coming out of Amanda Seyfried’s mouth actually make sense, which is a rare treat, and the whole thing is a neatly done parody of the disingenuous movie star interviews given during grueling rounds of film promotion. Sadly, the whole thing falls apart in the final seconds when she utters that godawful name. What does ‘I just “Live Irrésistible”’ even mean? It’s a linguistic catastrophe. You can’t just jam together an English verb and a French adjective, one which is screaming out for the admittedly cumbersome ‘-ment’ adverbial suffix, and call it a brand!
La vie est belle
In this absurd commercial, Julia Roberts shows off her silent acting chops. Her smugness about being able to magically transform solid walls into diamonds is palpable. But think of the homeowners! They have the generosity to invite her to their dinner party and she sets about remodeling the place without even a word of warning. Utterly shameless. It’s also hard to believe that someone who has Eat, Pray, Loved their way around the planet would be so easily charmed by the likes of the Eiffel Tower. It’s the most photographed landmark in the world and she’s grinning at it like the Cheshire Cat!
All these adverts, in one way or another, are selling a fantasy version of Paris, a city of pristine sidewalks and buildings, where everyone is a model caught up in a passionate new romance. But there’s one thing that no Parisian should stand for being glamorized and that’s the metro. The metro is just about the least romantic place on the planet, never mind just in Paris. It’s not advisable to open your mouth down there let alone kiss someone on a horizontal escalator. Gross. Also, what is it with all the roofs? Can’t perfume be enjoyed indoors anymore?